Mining the earth
*UN. Sweden is urging a new UN investigation into the 1961 death of respected UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjold. New evidence has come to light, governments are being asked to release pertinent info from their secret archives (including CIA and NSA). And what does this have to do with mining? Well, Hammarskjold was negotiating between the Congolese government and rebels, mercenaries and mining corporations, particularly Belgium’s Union Miniere, in Katanga province when his UN plane was shot down under mysterious circumstances.
*US. SunCoke Energy is cutting US production “by more than 50%” due to losses and while trying to figure out how to “sell all or a portion of our Coal Mining business”.
Video: 40 Years of Resistance on Black Mesa
*AZ. Major government-corporate cluster-you-know-what over at the Black Mesa mines results in grievous harm to Navajo and Hopi peoples. And now, Peabody coal wants a “lifetime mining permit” there. Sierra Club has joined Native Americans in a federal suit over this mess.
*AZ. The stealthy move to ensure block-cave mining by an Australian-British Rio Tinto subsidiary, Resolution Copper, on 2,400 acres of Apache sacred land succeeded. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sugar-coated this very bitter pill by claiming it is “a game-changer for an area of Arizona facing grave economic challenges”—as though there are no better, earth-friendly ways to meet those economic challenges. Update: Local reaction to passage of this thing.
*CO. Canada’s Cline Mining Co., owner of New Elk coal mine near Trinidad, has filed for bankruptcy protection.
*CO. In contrast to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’s actions (see AZ above), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) fought to preserve “more than 100,000 acres of wilderness in southwest Colorado.” And won.
*PA. A couple has sued the Eighty Four Mining Co for “loss of enjoyment of their dream home [since they have been] without a potable water source for more than six years.” State tests determined the water was “not fit for human consumption.” E-coli.
*WI. Yeah, its inadequate frac sand mining rules expired 9 months ago and, nope, they haven’t gotten around to writing new ones, but the WI Dept. of Natural Resources continues to allow new frac sand mining operations all the same.
*WV. Alpha Natural Resources has reached an agreement that requires the company to meet Clean Water Act provisions from its four mountaintop removal coal mines. Amazing that in 2010 EPA discovered no Appalachia mining permits “took steps to prevent pollution that increases conductivity in streams.” Alpha agreed to the provisions, but without endorsing anything pertaining to “methods for measuring stream health.”
*WV. Another suit concerning stream conductivity (see above) is underway, this one against Patriot Coal Corp’s subsidiary Hobet Mining. “[M]ultiple ongoing violations of West Virginia’s … water quality standards at the mine complex” in Boone County.
*Canada. Members of the James Bay Cree Nation have arrived in Montreal, after their 850-km/528-mi march “to protest against uranium exploration and mining in Quebec.” Crees are opposed to uranium mining because it “would invade their territory, pollute the environment and threaten their traditional way of life.” Investments in uranium mining in Quebec have been falling for years now—with Strateco actually seeking $190 million in compensation for having its aspirations blocked.
*Canada. The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw First Nations have “published a new set of guidelines for mining and exploration” that cover territories of four bands near Williams Lake. No doubt there will be lawsuits.
*Nicaragua. Some 7,000 Nicaraguans have been “scheduled for removal to clear a path for Central America’s second interoceanic canal [with the] Nicaraguan Army … already providing security for Chinese canal firm HKND.” A villager in Obrajuelo said, “They want to run us off our properties—to scatter us like birds without a nest. … we would rather die here fighting than get forced off our [ancestral] land.” Apparently, the whole thing is shrouded in mystery—to be followed by misery. More, including Chinese capital’s push into Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.
*Colombia. “Armed men” reportedly attacked the house of environmentalist Fernando Jaramillo in Jerico after Jaramilio published a newspaper article critical of the mayor’s support for mining. One of the attackers was identified as the mayor’s driver.
*Peru. 62% of Peruvian exports are from mining and petroleum, which also account for 75% of foreign investment in the country. Intense conflict over mining in the past. Quiruvilca, where Toronto’s Barrick Gold operates a copper mine, has benefitted from the “hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and royalties” paid to local government. Nonetheless, “unemployment and poverty remain endemic.” No jobs, people displaced, and now shantytowns. Don’t miss the video near the article’s end.
*Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Costa Rica have pledged to plant “hundreds of millions of trees and save over 1bn tonnes of CO2 a year—by 2020.
*India. Concern as the Indian government re-examines its relationship to coal following the Supreme Court’s decision to denationalize it. Some unions are already protesting the decision, while lawmakers debate how to handle the issue, including whether to nationalize or seizing it as “an opportunity to recast the [coal] sector.”
*India. While some are flirting with commercialization of the coal sector, the Steel & Mines Minister “has called for improved co-ordination between Centre and states to check illegal mining.” Among priorities in his efforts to improve relations with the states is “giving importance to environment concerns.”
A whirl around the fracking world
*Worldwide. As the climate conference closed in Lima, one single paragraph emerged, but two days later, an entire document was released. Environmentalists are particularly critical of the final product, here and here. Next year’s meeting in Paris is predicted to be rocky unless the countries most responsible for global warming are held to account—including the US.
*Worldwide. Jean Ross, President of the National Nurses United Council of Presidents, explains that the climate crisis is a health crisis, “It’s become an emergency.” And what will turn that around? “True energy democracy with public ownership.” She specifically addresses fracking, too, and the Keystone XL pipeline.
*Worldwide. 8 Dec, Brent crude was $67.30 while US crude was $64.40. 12 Dec, Brent was $62.94—with US prices falling to $57.81. 15 Dec, Brent at $60.62, US at $55.38—and the Canadian dollar “is now below 86 cents US.”
*Worldwide. Pretty spectacular prediction: The fall in oil prices “may blow a $1.6 trillion hole in the global oil sector, annually.” (Subtitle: “Santa got run over by an oil tanker.”)
*USA. Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says “the first action taken on his watch will be passing a bill to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.”
*USA. Taxpayer funds for oil trains! There reportedly are “10 federal and state grants” totaling about $84.2 million for oil trains. Thanks to fracking, “oil-train traffic has surged at least 42-fold since 2009, and 415,000 railcar loads of oil” were on the tracks last year. Wait’ll you read about Philadelphia’s Energy Solution refinery complex—“controlled by hedge fund Carlyle Group.” Or the $8.6 million in federal funds for “privately-held FarmRail System” in OK, or the $8.9 million in state and county funds for Global Partners in Oregon.
*AK. Seems North Slope crude is being affected by the rapid descent in oil prices, too, leading to the possibility of “multibillion-dollar deficits … where 88 cents of every dollar spent by state government comes from oil production.” Could lead to a $3.5 billion shortfall. If this continues, ya think the knee-jerk response will be to cut programs for the poor and less-well-off?
*CA. The Yurok tribe “has sold millions of dollars’ worth of carbon credits … to some of the state’s biggest polluters,” including oil companies.
*CA. The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals “threw out a human rights lawsuit brought against Occidental Petroleum Corp over allegations that it played a role in killings carried out by the Colombian military in 2004.” Three murdered labor union workers’ families had filed the suit. At the time, Occidental and subsidiary Ecopetrol contributed $6.3 million of “assistance” to Colombian security.
*FL. Such a bright idea: Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light want “to shift the high cost of [oil fracking] exploration from their stockholders to their customers.” And don’t forget Tampa where Duke Energy billed customers for nuclear-power plants that have never been built—but Duke still has the money. Update: Florida Power & Light got the green light from state regulators; Duke’s “reviewing.”
*LA. St. Tammany Parish is trying to halt oil drilling and/or fracking near Mandeville. Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany want to join in the Parish’s lawsuit against LA’s Dept of Natural Resources and Commissioner of Conservation.
*MA. In January, “the U.S. Department of Interior will auction off more than 742,000 acres in the waters off Massachusetts for the development of commercial wind energy.” 12 companies qualified to participate. Maybe the Whirl will morph into “around the Green Energy World.”
*NC. Those proposed fracking rules “sailed through a rules review … despite a staff attorney’s warning that several rules failed to meet state standards and should be put out for public hearing.”
*NE. Seems TransCanada wants a decision and it wants it now. They’ve sent final offers to 100+ Nebraskans on the Keystone XL pipeline route offering them right-of-way payments, else they’ll face eminent domain. Those 100+ have so far not signed easement contracts.
*NM. Gov Martinez (R) is reportedly “supporting polluting industries, going against EPA guidelines and passing [legislation] which allows mining, oil, gas and dairy industries to continue to pollute groundwater … as long as it doesn’t leave their property.” Groan. Currently, citizens are fighting to protect the Gila River, keep out fracking and imports of nuclear waste.
*NY. At last, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)’s administration has made public its fracking report. NY’s Dept of Health Commissioner noted “The evidence … raised public health concerns,” and many questions, since there have been no “longitudinal studies” of the impact of fracking on public health. The Dept of Environmental Conservation Commissioner said fracking’s “prospects … in New York State are uncertain at best.” Science and concern for the public’s health won the day.
*OK. Pedestal Co is proposing leasing land to the south of Lake Hefner. A public hearing has been scheduled “with only 1 week notice, a week before Christmas and with only representatives of Pedestal Oil company”.
*PA. Whoa! “In a change from two months ago, Penn Township officials now are moving to ban fracking ponds” from all five zoning districts. Seems public comments saved the day. Meanwhile, Gov-elect Tom Wolf (D) has reiterated he’s a big fracker-fan, though of course his administration will make it all safe.
Video: Nordheim, TX—a small town that now finds itself home to an open-pit fracking waste facility.
*TX. Republicans like to rag on big government, but when it comes to fracking in TX, big government is in charge. Denton, TX voted to ban fracking. They’ve been told only the state can decide where fracking will occur, however.
*TX. Watch out “brown pelicans, ocelots, sea turtles, dolphins and a host of other endangered and protected wildlife” on and near South Padre Island, ’cause liquid natural gas conglomerates are looking to build export terminals in the area, resulting in “million of gallons of heated effluent” sumped daily into shallow bays.
*TX. “Islands of the Oil Kings”: 3-part Dallas News series on the early oil barons, their San Jose and Matagorda Islands from whence came some mighty big deals and politicians.
*TX. Halliburton (can you say Dick “Dick”?) will be laying off around 1,000 employees in “the Eastern hemisphere, effective immediately.” They’re also buying Baker Hughes, oil field services company, for $35 billion but that’s “unrelated,” of course, of course.
*Canada. Everyone’s fave, BP, has joined with Husky Energy to begin “operations at their Sunrise oil sands in Alberta, Canada, a project expected to have a lifespan of 50 years. Initial capacity of 60,000 barrels per day,” eventually to be 200,000 barrels/day. The two also own the BP-Husky Refinery at Toledo, OH.
*Canada. Canadian grain-trains are increasingly hauling oil, too—which the “farmers say is pushing their crops to lower-priced overseas markets.” This could help out US growers and consumers, except US farmers experience the same problem.
*Canada. The Fraser Institute maintains there’s “no evidence of unmanageable risk associated” with fracking. And even if there is, it can be handled simply by having companies’ have adequate insurance. What’s the Fraser Institute, you might ask (and you should)? “It has been described as politically conservative and libertarian.” Its funding? 31% directly from corps and 57% from “‘business-oriented charitable foundations,’” such as the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Koch-controlled Claude R. Lambe Foundation.
*Nigeria. Two oil workers’ unions in Nigeria have gone on strike, “demanding the reinstatement of representatives who had been dismissed by oil companies,” initially, but now expanded to protesting the state of disrepair of refineries and roads used to transport oil, the price of oil and the continuing theft of it.
*Bangladesh. Villagers “using spoons, sponges and shovels” are trying to mop up 77,000 gallons of oil unleashed in an area that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A Padma Oil Co. tanker collided with a cargo ship. Oil has spread “across 50 miles of rivers and canals.” Padma is paying the locals for whatever oil they can collect. Vegetation and animals are reportedly dying. And the impact on the human spirit?
Crossposted from Firedoglake: Mining the Earth: 16 Dec 2014 and A Quick Whirl Around the Fracking World: 18 Dec 2014.
Content posted to MyMPN open blogs is the opinion of the author alone, and should not be attributed to MintPress News.